Sundance Film Fest 1985: First Year Under Redford

This year Sundance Film Festival, the most important and influential fest in the U.S., celebrates its 30th anniversary.

Here is a look at 1985, the first year of the Sundance Film Fest under the leadership of Robert Redford, in terms of films and directors in the Dramatic Competition.



4wryr23zyjdWhich feature debut was impressive?

Were there any women directors?

Life after Sundance? One-time filmmakers, or directors with sustained careers

Which and how many directors went on to become major forces in indie and/or mainstream Hollywood?



At the 1985 Sundance Film Festival, ten directors presented their works in the Dramatic Competition.

Of the ten directors, only one was a woman, Nell Cox, and only one African-American, Bill Duke.

The age of the directors varied from the early 20s (Adam Brooks) to the early 40s (Victor Nunez).

About half of the directors were graduates of film schools, several of them from the NYU Film School, others grads of different disciplines.

Most of the films were feature directorial debuts, such as Joel Coen’s “Blood Simple,” or Jim Jarmusch’s “Stranger Than Paradise,” which had actually premiered at the Cannes Film Fest in 1984, where it won the Camera d’Or.


Directors in Dramatic Competition (A to Z)

Brooks, Adam       Almost You

Coen, Joel              Blood Simple

Cox, Nell                The Roommate

Duke, William      The Killing Floor

Jarmusch, Jim       Stranger Than Paradise

Keller, Frederick    Vamping

King, Rick               Hard Choices

Nunez, Victor         A Flash of Green

Roth, Bobby             Heartbreakers

Van Dusen, Bruce  Cold Feet


Films in Dramatic Competition (A to Z)

Almost You

Blood Simple

Cold Feet

Flash of Green, A

Hard Choices


Killing Floor, The

Roommate, The

Stranger Than Paradise




Two films made long-lasting impression

Stranger than Paradise

Blood Simple

Victor Nunez would direct in 1993 one of his best features, Ruby in Paradise, putting actress Ashley Judd on the map.